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Axe falls at City of Vancouver outside workers' union

Embattled union represents 1,600 members

The board of Vancouvers embattled outside workers union was fired Tuesday, the Courier has learned.

CUPE Local 1004 members received a memo from CUPE National Representative Justin Schmid informing them that the local had been placed immediately under national administration.

All executive board members, stewards and committees are hereby relieved of their duties effective immediately, said Schmids memo, which said to direct all communication to him or fellow national representative Meena Brisard or the relevant business agent.

Schmid could not be reached at the Local 1004 office for immediate comment on Tuesday, but the phone was handed to Brisard when a Courier reporter called.

You can call back tomorrow and talk to Justin, hes not in right now, Brisard said. Im a national rep, Im not the administrator.

No reason was mentioned in Schmids memo for the drastic housecleaning, but discontent with Local 1004 president Mike Jacksons leadership had been brewing since last summer when he was temporarily assigned to CUPEs B.C. regional office.

Chief steward Alex Bruse unsuccessfully contested Jacksons leave of absence, according to a Feb. 8 Courier story. Jackson, he claimed, had missed six executive meetings and three membership meetings and his leave had not been approved by membership. Bruse also claimed in an email to union leadership that the locals executive held back recent (financial) statements due to payments made to Jackson.

I am not alleging any wrongdoing, but rather bringing to your attention some of the other ways in which Brother Jacksons unapproved absence is causing friction, instability and uncertainty in the local, Bruse wrote in an Oct. 15, 2012 email to Brisard. Brisard ruled that Jacksons absence was acceptable and that he had not committed financial wrongdoing.

The executive board voted in January to suspend the stewards council, which acts as the liaison between the executive and rank-and-file members. The motion, however, was withdrawn before a February membership vote.

Contacted by the Courier on Tuesday, Jackson blamed media attention for part of this problem.

It is what it is, and I have no comment to make, Jackson told the Courier. My conduct was above board, unfortunately it is what it is and I have no further comment to make on it.

Asked if he planned to take any legal action to regain the presidency, Jackson said: Absolutely not, my next step is to go back to my regular job as a truck driver with the City of Vancouver.

Jackson was on Mayor Gregor Robertsons personal guest list for the 2011 city council swearing-in. Under Jackson, Local 1004 reached a four-year pact with the city in January. The 1,600 garbage, recycling, street repair and parks and facilities maintenance workers got a 6.75% pay hike through Dec. 31, 2015.

A statement released Wednesday by CUPE spokeswoman Kathryn Sutton said: CUPE Local 1004s executive board has been struggling with its ability to meet effective representation expectations. Because of this, CUPE National has taken over the day to day operations of the local and will be restructuring the local to ensure that members are well represented and that CUPE 1004 is running as efficiently as possible.

CUPE 1004s executive board and membership have been cooperative and supportive of this process. At the end of this process a new executive board will be elected and daily operations will be turned back over to CUPE Local 1004.

The move came less than a week before CUPE National President Paul Moists scheduled appearance at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Convention in Vancouver. He is paired with Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer on a June 3 panel called Strengthening Local Partnerships.

Meanwhile, CUPE Local 1004 moved earlier in May to a new office rented by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union at 33 East 8th Ave. after an April 18 fire gutted its office at the Maritime Labour Centre in East Vancouver. A bizarre incident was described in a WorkSafeBC report in which a worker unaffiliated with CUPE was violent, threatening and caused a fire to break out in the administration office.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue referred media calls to the Vancouver Police Department, which refused to comment because the incident was deemed an attempted suicide.

The fire caused an estimated $10,000 damage, according to minutes of a special membership meeting on April 30 at the Pacific Coliseums Pacific Dining Lounge.

In the minutes, Jackson said the fire was blamed on an unnamed disgruntled member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

He was extremely violent and was eventually arrested and treated for burns, according to the minutes. He was the only person who was physically injured. Our office staff were witness to this behaviour and have been provided with trauma counseling by a (WorkSafeBC) counselor who handles these types of a situation.

The fire was mainly in two business agents offices, the reception area and the library. The rest of the office had smoke and water damage. The majority of files in the reception area were destroyed. The local hoped that contents of closed filing cabinets could be salvaged.

The contents of the hard rives were backed up and that data is still intact, said the minutes.

Local 1004 moved to authorize expenditures over $500 to return operations back to pre-fire running order. This amount is not to exceed the insurance policy limit of $120,000, the minutes said.